Feel Happier In Nine Seconds. Linda Besner. Coach House Books. Toronto, Ontario. 2017.
Today's book of poetry feels, with no disrespect intended, that Linda Besner's Feel Happier In Nine Seconds reads like a future television sit-com that we are all going to love. These poems whip by at a punchline per second pace. And make no mistake, Besner is as funny as she is clever, she is also juxtapositionally jolly.
But it is not all fun and games in Feel Happier In Nine Seconds world. Linda Besner isn't above putting a dramatic ending in the proceedings to make a point. Besner has one of those elastic imaginations, a time-shifting ESP at her sonic fingertips and, as if that's not enough, these poems are outrageously entertaining.
Panting Under Ripped Parasol's Lacy Enclosure
In an elopement no one noticed,
I fled the public lecture with my lover's
espadrilles. It was the pinnacle of the tulip season,
me hardly bulletproof but for the periwinkle
in my buttonhole, my roll of crepe paper,
and the rupee bundle under my petticoat.
My chevalier lay with his picnic basket
and pince-nez, sumptuously crumpling
the Riesling label.
'Don't parade on my rain,' he begged.
But I've been propelled to unreason
like a spectral helicopter.
I'd rather be LARPing. My utopia?
A luau before yuletide ships
rammed the island. Before
puritanical undertakers in period drapery
unclasped their popsicle rods
to dripple into the Pacific.
Though I sculpt my emancipation
from a rockface trimmed with pelicans, I know
I'll long forever for my lover's lotioned elbows.
This here is superior word play, mastery of a sort, Linda Besner is clearly two-hundred and thirty-two years wise inside of her disguise. This is mature writing, perhaps Besner has been reincarnated? If that's the case I'll pro-offer a scenario: Besner is part Emily Dickinson, part Dorothy Parker, part Anne Sexton and with a modicum of my personal heroine, the under-rated and mostly unknown Linda Pyke, thrown in. A better writer than Today's book of poetry wouldn't have to resort to comparisons to accurately report on Feel Happier In Nine Seconds with precision and flair.
There's no denying that sometimes reading Besner it feels as though she is playing with the rest of us mere mortals, patient, while laying out easy to follow tracks to her light speed wit and world view. Besner even has a few bawdy, nee romantic frissons.
Midway through Feel Happier In Nine Seconds there is a psychedelic monologue of epic proportion, it is colour coded and almost certainly candy coated. It's a bit like the first ride you ever took on a motorcycle without a helmet.
Linda Besner will entertain you, guaranteed.
The famous nonconformist
whose camper van I left
my pants in says I'm a rube
who's never seen the inside
of an apple seed.
That I'm a shade
overruffling the lamp
he can see is turned
on. Imagine my surprise
when, stepping outside,
I ran bang into his parents'
cows. Bessie, does it hurt
when common trilliums
graze your personhood?
Your infinity sign of flies
reties my shoelace lows.
I raise a stranger's trace
to clear the nimbus
of snot from your mouth.
Our office reading was splendid today. We did finally hear from the newly wed Milo, our new silent partner, and Kathryn his bride, our former intern turned Jr. Editor, who will be returning from their pilgrimage/honeymoon in San Francisco and City Lights Bookstore. Today's book of poetry was present at their lovely nuptials before they slipped away. They chose to go small and quiet and asked that Today's book of poetry respect their wishes and not give anything away. Done.
The rest of the Today's book of poetry staff wishes they all the best and will, of course, fete them properly upon their poetic return.
Linda Besner's Feel Happier In Nine Seconds was like chum to piranhas for the morning read. We just made the office air churn with these wildly playful poems.
Vacuum Meets Harmonica
in a motel bed nostril to nostril
where panflute madrigals play
on golem bones, a numbing verve
squeals the SOS of unmoored clarinets,
ushers yellow leaves to hollow logs,
haunts a house with sixteen doors,
neighbours of ascending heights
borrowing hairdryers, borrowing ice,
and fans the scarves of spin doctors;
sunken foghorns cue the skirmishing
vapour of exhumed gladiators,
their helmets crested with spinning
weather vanes, a mummer's dirty
squall-nozzle flutters the blinds
while dervishes sweep the carpet
of its mackerel sky, then speed
to scatter a passing gale of mary's hail,
concuss the hockey team, and pull
through regal cyclone the heaviest
tractor, a humbling valve
that whirls off modesty,
two raging female ends,
that glorious moment when
Today's book of poetry is no genius for telling you that Linda Besner has a certain grasp of her own genius, certainly a hand firmly on the ring. Feel Happier In Nine Seconds is proper solid. Besner can burn any recipe she wants.
Today's book of poetry is already setting the table in wait for her next adventure. We are sure it is going to spectacular.
ABOUT THE AUTHORLinda Besner is the author of The Id Kid, published in 2011 by VÃ©hicule Press and named one of the National Post’s Best Poetry Books of the Year. Her poetry and journalism have appeared in numerous magazines.
Brave art, raw not cooked, a pure pleasure to experience.’
– Globe and Mail
‘Besner's imagination doesn't appear to have an upper or outer limit – Reading her poems is a bad trip and a transformational experience.’
– Ken Babstock